Keele University supports £2m climate education expansion for England's young learners
Every school, college, and university in England will have free access to expert support to become greener and more climate resilient in a national scheme backed by £2m of Department for Education (DfE) funding and supported regionally by Keele University.
All 30,000 education settings in England will be able to access the Climate Action Planning Sector Engagement and Support Service (SESS) and get help in producing unique Climate Action Plans. The plans will help education settings to boost climate education, promote green careers, reduce carbon emissions, increase biodiversity, and allow them to become more resilient to climate extremes.
The Climate Action Planning SESS will establish nine regional hubs across England, with Keele University hosting the West Midlands hub.
These regional hubs will recruit and support volunteers from industry and academia to work as Climate Ambassadors, who will provide advice and support to nurseries, schools, colleges and universities in developing Climate Action Plans across four key areas — sustainability leadership, climate science, environmental education, and communications and digital infrastructure.
The scheme is an expansion of the Climate Ambassadors programme created by the University of Reading and STEM Learning as one outcome of the National Climate Education Action Plan. Since April 2022, the scheme has seen 236 Climate Ambassadors reach more than 80,000 learners and teachers in 534 schools, colleges and universities.
Professor Mark Ormerod, Deputy Vice Chancellor and Provost at Keele University, said: “We're thrilled that Keele University is part of the national consortium that has been successful in being selected by the Department for Education to deliver its sustainability leadership and climate change action education, leading the West Midlands Hub.
“We have a long-established track record at Keele of high quality public engagement and outreach activity in the area of sustainability, sustainable, low carbon technology and climate change science going back 30 years, as well as in driving and embedding sustainability on our campus and across all aspects of our operations, and in our education, research and external engagement and partnerships, so are delighted to be a key part of this impressive consortium."
Professor Zoe Robinson, Professor of Sustainability in Higher Education and Director of the Institute for Sustainable Futures at Keele University, added: "We are delighted to be a key part of delivering the Department for Education's ambitions for driving climate change action in education settings. Being part of this exciting national project builds on our reputation for driving sustainability on our own campus as well as through our partnerships, outreach and research, and aligns with the breadth of activity overseen by Keele's Institute for Sustainable Futures."
The new project will be co-led by EAUC, the national sustainability charity for Universities in the UK, and will be a collaboration involving Keele University, Manchester Metropolitan University, the University of Newcastle, University of Leeds, Universities for Nottingham, the University of East Anglia, the Met Office, and University College London along with other national partners at STEM Learning, Hopscotch Communications and Change Agents.
Partner organisations, including Keele, will tailor their support to the needs of each school, college or university. As well as providing resources and guidance on areas like energy use and enhancing biodiversity, experts will also help education settings to build resilience to extreme weather events. For example, schools vulnerable to flooding will get more help to prevent damage and cope with its impacts.
The expanded Climate Ambassadors scheme will launch in March 2024 and aims to rapidly scale up support for English schools, colleges and universities to support the DfE's sustainability and climate change goals.
Professor Andrew Charlton-Perez, the University of Reading climate scientist who led the Climate Ambassador scheme's creation, said: "Passing on the expertise of our ambassadors has helped teachers make climate and the environment a feature of their lessons in all subjects, and young people to become advocates for our planet from an early age. We have amazing expertise in climate and sustainability right across the country, in our universities, in the private sector and in charities and government. Climate Ambassadors is about unlocking that expertise for the benefit of our education system.
“Nurseries, schools and colleges are the lifeblood of our communities and connect people in ways that few other organisations do. They are places where we can join together in the fight against climate change and biodiversity loss. As we grow the scheme, the number of connections we will make between those who have something to give and those who need help will only get bigger and better.”
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